Amazon announced this week that it would be launching a Lending Library later this year, a deal that would let Kindle owners check out books from over 11,000 libraries. This brings Kindle to parity with other e-readers that libraries let their patrons use for e-book check-outs, and considering Kindle’s market share, may be a boon to schools and libraries looking to expand their e-book adoption.
Open source robotics builders Willow Garage announced this week the release of TurtleBot, their first low-cost personal robot. Built with a Kinect sensor, a gyro, and a laptop, along with Willow Garage’s Robots Operating System, TurtleBot is aimed at hobbyists and developers.
Academic publisher Flat World Knowledge announced the release of its MIYO (Make It Your Own) platform this week. Flat World Knowledge specializes in openly-licensed textbooks, and the MIYO platform will enable professors to build textbooks — moving or deleting chapters or sections, adding notes, exercises, and PDFs, inserting videos, and incorporating other openly licensed materials. The books are then “built,” and made available for students — either free online or in a low-cost print format.
Learning management system giant Blackboard revealed this week that it has received “unsolicited, non-binding proposals” for acquisition. No word on who that buyer might be or whether Blackboard would actually sell, but it does seem to be taking the offers seriously, announcing that it has retained Barclays Capital as financial advisors to address the proposals. It’s also not clear what an acquisition would mean to the thousands of colleges and universities that are now Blackboard customers.
Qwiki, a startup that claims to turn “information into experience” by transforming Wikipedia entries into robot narrated, photo slide-shows, launched an iPad app this week.
Ed-tech entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley area: Mark your calendars for the San Francisco Startup Weekend Education, June 3-5. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event in which participants build a web or mobile app over the course of the weekend. The event in June will be focused specifically on building educational apps, with over $5000 in prizes for the winning teams.